Category Archives: Anger/Violence

Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers

Sunrise Over Fallujah

Bibliographic information: Sunrise over Fallujah.Walter Dean Myers. Scholastic Press, 2008. $17.99. 290p. ISBN-13:  9780439916240.
Summary: Robin “Birdy” Perry has signed up for the military in honor of his favorite uncle. He is assigned to be a part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom. Although, that is just the code name. Birdy and his new friends in the military’s Civil Affairs Battalion tend to just call it “War”. Him and his new friends are profoundly changed by the war happening around them. Some of his friends make it and are able to go home or are transferred to a different faction, but some of his newest friends do not make it through to the end.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: age 12 and up
Review: In this novel, Sunrise Over Fallujah, Myers writes about the true horrors and sadness that come with war. His writing is vivid and he doesn’t beat around the bush trying to make something so terrifying and horrible sound better than it is, he outright tells the truth. His characters are memorable and stick with the reader long after the book has been put down. Yet again with a Myers novel, teens will be able to relate to the story and characters and it will give them a sense of camaraderie. A powerful read that should not go unnoticed.
Readers’ annotation: War. Birdy has been ready for this his whole life, but when he gets there it’s not like anything he was expecting.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book talks about war and what it is like for a young man or woman to join the troops. This book will be helpful to young adults who have or are thinking about joining in the military. They will be able to read about Birdy’s experience and gain perspective and understanding about the military and the emotions and actions that go along with participating in the troops.
Issues present: This book has a bit of violence and gun use. People are inclined to object to books that have violence and guns in them and do not want their children reading such books. Although, it is important to remember that you cannot always shield your children from reality and when somebody goes to war there is undoubtedly going to be some violence and many guns. So, Myers is just writing the truth.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Robin “Birdy” Perry’s character.
Pg. 1 letter to his uncle about heading to war and his nervous yet excited behavior.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: war and violence, death
Readalikes:  Other Myers books, Fallen Angels, Feed, Purple Heart
Author’s website:
Awards: South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2011), Sakura Medal Nominee for High School Book (2010)
Reviews: Boolist:; School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Reviews:
Why I chose it: I had never read any books about war before because I was never really interested in it, but I was told by a friend that this was a good book and it would change my views on war books. Boy was she right.


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Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff

Paper Valentine

Bibliographic information: Paper Valentine. Brenna Yovanoff. Razor Bill, 2013. $17.99. 304p. ISBN-13:  9781595145994.
Summary: Hannah’s best friend, Lillian, died a few months ago, but that doesn’t deter her from hanging around, in the form of a ghost. Little girls start showing up dead in the park, which is the center of her small town, and now with the urging of Lillian, Hannah puts herself to the task of catching the killer. With the help from the ghosts of the murdered girls and through the crime scene photos she was able to sneak a look at, Hannah has found a lead.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This haunting tale weaves a story filled with friendly ghosts out to catch their murderers. It’s sad when your best friend is a ghost, but Hannah doesn’t seem to mind. Nobody may be able to see her but she is always there to lend advice, even when a string of murders attracts Hannah’s attention. Through her ghostly friend, Hannah develops into a strong-willed character who takes charge when she normally would have followed. Everybody hates losing a friend and Hannah’s character shows what happens when you try to hold on to somebody who isn’t there anymore. But she is able to cope with her loss and move on with her life while still respecting her friend in a much healthier way. Teens will be able to relate to Hannah’s situation and they won’t want to put this book down. Mystery, horror, fantasy, and humor. This book has it all.
Readers’ annotation: With the help of her best friend, who just happens to be a ghost, Hannah is able to pursue the serial killer who is haunting her town.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book are helpful and friendly. They will give readers the sense that they do not need to fear such beings because they will not harm you. It is a great coping mechanism for someone who is frightened by ghosts. Also, it does a great job of show how a teen has had to cope with the loss of her best friend and will give teens in similar situations some perspective on the matter.
Issues present: This book has both ghosts and serial killers/murders both of which are objectionable topics in a teen book. However, children can use this book to help them fight their fears and understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. Also, serial killers are not very common but they are real and children should understand this.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Hannah’s character and her friend Lillian.
P. 14 from “It used to shock me…” to “…I was the only one who ever seemed to miss her.” – introduces parts of plot.
P. 126 second full paragraph to end of page. – describes crime scene, adds to plot.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts and serial killers, death
Readalikes:  Name of the Star, I Hunt Killers, Game, Hollow series
Author’s website:
Awards: Recommended Reads List for Young Adults (2013)
Reviews: Booklist:; School Library Journal:,; Publisher’s Weekly:
Why I chose it: Brenna Yovanoff is a favorite author of mine and I thought this one would be a great addition to my collection because it discussed serial killers and ghosts.

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The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Name of the Star. Maureen Johnson. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011. $16.99. 372p. ISBN-13:  9780399256608.
Summary: Aurora “Rory” is from a small swamp town just outside of New Orleans and she has just moved to London for her parents work. She will be starting at the Wexford boarding school in just a few days. However, upon arrival in London there appears to be a Jack the Ripper copycat and her school just so happens to be in the neighborhood. All Rory wanted to do was be a normal girl and get through high school, but she is soon swept up in the Ripper murders and becomes an unlikely target in an unexplainable string up murders.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 8 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: This thrilling tale of ghosts and murder will captivate young readers from page one. Rory is a strong female protagonist who is down to earth and easy to get along with. Readers will find themselves becoming her friend. She is depicted as an American Southern who moves to London and cannot seem to stay out of trouble or keep her mouth shut. Talking is a sport for Rory. The friends she meet are as realistic as Rory even among all the fantasy happening around them and they will speak to teens on a personal level. Johnson writes with skill and the words flow off one another pooling together to create a wonderful story. An addictive book that will be enjoyed by young adults.
Readers’ annotation: Rory just moved to London in Jack the Ripper territory. 100 years later, the murders are occurring again.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The ghosts in this book will be great at helping children understand that there is no reason to fear ghosts. The book depicts them as mostly harmless, lost souls. This will lend help to children who fear ghosts.
Issues present: This book has both serial killers/murderers and ghosts. People might think that this book is too scary for their children and object to the title. Also, people tend to feel highly against supernatural monsters in children books. However, children use books to help fight their fears of ghosts as well as understand that bad people are out there, but there are also a lot of people there to protect you.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Aurora “Rory’s” character.
Pg. 43 starting with, “I took a big, deep breath to prepare for my angel voice…” until the paragraph ends on the next page – Describes her near-death experience.
Genre or subject: Fantasy: ghosts, serial killer, Jack the Ripper
Readalikes: Hallow, Paper Valentine, The Christopher Killer, Anya’s Ghost
Author’s website:
Awards: Edgar Award Nominee for Best Young Adult (2012)
Reviews: Booklist:; School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Review:
Why I chose it: This book was recommended to me by a friend who knows how much I like books about ghosts and serial killers.

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Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1)

Bibliographic information: Ship Breaker. Paolo Bacigalupi. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010. $17.99. 326p. ISBN-13:  9780316056212.
Summary: Nailer works as a scavenger for copper wiring on beached oil tankers. He spends his days climbing through poisonous dangerous crawl spaces to make a little money to survive because his violent drug addicted father is not use. One day he ends up falling into an oil well in the tanker he was stripping and gets stuck. When his work buddy finds him, she leaves him there to die in hopes that she can claim the oil for herself and get rich. Nailer apparently has a lucky side and finds a way out by breaking through the oil well door and landing in the ocean, oddly enough, in one piece. This means he doesn’t get to claim the oil, his boss does, but at least he is still alive and the work buddy who left him behind is shunned away. Not long after that there is a huge storm that lands a lot of beached ships on their shore. Nailer finds a beached clipper ship with a sole survivor, a girl about his age. Now Nailer has to decide whether he is going to kill the girl and strip the ship or save the girl and potentially gain a new life. It all depends on whether he can trust the girl or not.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 7 and up IL: grade 8 and up
Review: Winner of the Printz Book Award for 2011 as well as Notable Children’s Books, Best Fiction for Young Adults, and Children’s Books of the Year. This young adult dystopian novel is a little different from what you may be used to. The characters of this story are complex, but incredibly realistic and loyalty is one of their main attributes. Nailer is struggling to survive in a dystopian society based solely on harvesting goods from beached oil tankers. He puts himself at risk each day so that he can make a little money to live from. When he is faced with a difficult decision, his conscience wins out and he can only hope it was the right choice, but it does bring him on a life changing journey that will only add to his character. Morals seem to be fickle things in this story and Nailer seems to have the brunt of them. This trilling adventure will captivate the minds of teen readers and pull them into a vivid world of brutality and hardship that will keep their attention all the way through.
Readers’ annotation: After a huge storm blows through, Nailer is left with a choice of life or death. And it all hinges on a girl he found.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This book shows teens that there are other young adults in the world that are struggling through life and that they are not alone in their struggles. Also, of all the characters Nailer sets some great morals for children to follow.
Issues present: This book kind of reminds me of Lord of the Flies where everybody is just brutal savages and everybody is out save themselves and nobody else. Parents and even teacher might object to the blatant violence and savagery in this book. However, the real world is brutal and savage, maybe not as much as in this book, but it will prepare kids for the real world and make them less afraid.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Nailer’s character.
If you had to choose between money or saving a girl’s life who could potentially kill you, what would you do?
Genre or subject: Science fiction: dystopian, toxic parent
Readalikes:  Ashfall, Tankborn, Uglies, The House of the Scorpion, The Hunger Games
Author’s website:
Awards: National Book Award Nominee for Young People’s Literature (2010), Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book (2011), Romantic Times (RT) Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee for Best Young Adult Paranormal/Fantasy Novel (2010), Cybils Award Nominee for Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (2010), Printz Award (2011) YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (2011), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2011), Publishers Weekly’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2013), Andre Norton Award Nominee for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (2010)
Reviews:  Booklist:; School Library Journal:; Publisher’s Weekly:; Kirkus Review:
Why I chose it: This book was recommended to me by a friend and the concept sounded intriguing so I gave it a go.

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The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

The Outsiders

Bibliographic information: The Outsiders. S. E. Hinton. Speak, 1967. $8.99. 192p. ISBN-13:  9780140385724.
Summary: Three brothers, Ponyboy, Darry, and Sodapop, are trying to survive on their own after their parents’ death. Ponyboy is a member of the Greasers gang and their rivals are the Socs. When leaving a movie theater one night Ponyboy is jumped by the Socs and his older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, save him. However, the next night Ponyboy and his friends meet up with a couple of girls associated with the Socs at the drive-in. They realize that the girls are nothing like the Socs and offer to walk them home, but Bob and Randy from the Socs gang run into them. The girls willingly leave with Bob and Randy to prevent a fight, but when Ponyboy gets home late Darry hits him. So, Ponyboy runs away and meets up with his friend Johnny and things start to go downhill from there.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 8 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This is a classic that all teens should read. A coming of age story for a group of boys trying to survive on their own in a dangerous neighborhood. Two gangs who are rivals are at constant end with each other and even when their friends get hurt of killed they keep going at each others throats. Even though things get worst for Ponyboy when he runs away, he discovers that his brothers really care about him and he tries harder. Hinton’s writing is fluid and mesmerizing, you get pulled into the story and feel for the characters, especially Ponyboy. Overcoming so many hardships and working towards a better life, Ponyboy is a strong-willed character. Step into the shoes of Ponyboy and read The Outsiders.
Readers’ annotation: Two rival gangs, the Greasers and the Socs, fighting over the same turf and Ponyboy, a Greaser, is just trying to survive.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: This is a great coming-of-age story that shows a strong-willed boy who will fight to overcome his hardships and this will encourage coming-to-age teens to fight to overcome their hardships. Also, the realistic characters and situations in the book will speak to teens who are in similar situations and lend them a coping mechanism.
Issues present: The strong presence of gang violence, alcohol and drug use, and guns in this novel make it objectionable, especially by parents and teachers. However, this book shows how somebody put into a hard situation can overcome those hardships, this will encourage young adults to do the same.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Ponyboy’s character.
Talk about gang wars.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: gangs, violence
Readalikes:  Getting the Girl, Feels Like Home, Breaking Rank, We All Fall Down
Author’s website:
Awards: Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Secondary (1991); Oprah’s Kids’ Reading Lists – Classics: 12 Years and Up; Virginia Readers’ Choice Award: High School (Grades 10-12)
Why I chose it: This is a classic challenged book that almost every teen ends up reading because it is part of the school reading list. I thought it would be a great addition to my collection.

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The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1) by Jonathan Stroud

The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus, #1)

Bibliographic information: The Amulet of Samarkand (Bartimaeus #1). Jonathan Stroud. Miramax, 2003. $17.95. 462p. ISBN-13:  9780786818594.
Summary:  After incurring the wrath of Simon Lovelace, a powerful magician, ten-year old Nathanial, a magician’s apprentice, decides to summon a 5,000 year old djinni named Bartimaeus to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from Lovelace. Bartimaeus could care less what his assignment is, he just wants to get back to the spirit world and be left in peace. The djinni’s sole goal is to get the amulet and then get back at Nathanial for summoning him. Bartimaeus preferred his earlier master, Ptolemy, to Nathanial and takes every opportunity to say so. Although, since this is a rather difficult assignment, Bartimaeus and Nathanial get caught up in a flood of magic, rebellion, and murder that the two have to work together to survive.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: grade 6 and up
Review: Filled with interesting characters and a plethora of magic, this book will catch your attention and pull you in for a tantalizing ride. The tale is narrated by Bartimaues, a 5,000 year old djinni, who takes sarcastic to a new level. His hilarious script paired with the dark and foreboding tale makes for an intriguing story that is sure to lure you in and you won’t want to wait for the sequels. Stroud’s elaborate descriptions and great details make the images of the story pop into your head. While narrating the story Bartimaeus will make side comments that are numbered and can be found at the bottom of the pages in Chicago style writing. Tweens will get a kick out of the crazy tricks that Bartimaeus and Nathanial pull off together.
Readers’ annotation: Nathanial feels confident enough in his magical powers to summon up a 5,000-year-old djinn, but he is in for a rude awakening.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The various supernatural monsters in this book would help children fight their fears. Many teens have monsters in their lives that they are afraid of and reading about some will help them cope and get past these fears whether they be make-believe or real.
Issues present: There is magic and supernatural monsters present in this novel that people may object to. It may go against their beliefs and they will not want their children reading such things, however, children use such books to fight their fears against monsters make-believe and real. Also, different viewpoints on religion gives children a broader scope of the world.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Nathanial and Bartimaeus’s characters,
What happens when you summon a 5,000 year old djinni who thinks he’s a know it all?
Genre or subject: Fantasy: magic, djinn/demons, wizards
Readalikes: Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl, The Demon Lexicon, Hex Hall, The Golden Compass
Author’s website:
Awards: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature (2006), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2004)
Reviews: Kirkus Review:; School Library Journal:; Booklist:; Publisher’s Weekly:
Why I chose it: I found this book a the list of challenged books while I was working on one of my projects for class and thought I would read it and add it to my collection.

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Clockwork, or, All Wound Up by Philip Pullman


Bibliographic information: Clockwork, or, All Wound Up. Philip Pullman. Scholastic, 1996. $5.99. 144p. ISBN-13:  9780439856232.
Summary:  In the old day in Germany an apprentice clockmaker named Karl, an innkeeper’s daughter named Gretl, and a writer named Fritz start the gears turning on the story of Clockwork. The townspeople gather the night before the unveiling of the new figure for the town clock, although, Karl has failed to make the figure. Fritz reads his latest story about a local aristocrat, Prince Otto and his son, Prince Florian. When Prince Otto dies on a hunting trip his heart is replaced by clockwork that helps him find his way home. Fritz is at a loss for an ending. However, his story starts to come true when the evil Dr. Kalmenius comes to the tavern, leaving Fritz to run in fright. The Dr. offers Karl a clockwork figure named Sir Ironsoul and Karl accepts.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 10 and up IL: age 12 and up
Review: This is a haunting tale of a writers made up story that ends up becoming a true nightmare. Fritz never expected to see one of the characters from his story in flesh and blood, but when Dr. Kalmenius walks through the door of the tavern, he can’t believe it and runs in terror. Accepting Ironsoul for his apprentice’s clockwork piece was a bad move for Karl. Gretl, in an act of unselfishness saves Ironsoul from death. All of the stories of the characters start to come together to form one story and when they meet in the end it is not what you were expecting at all. This fast-paced nightmare of a tale represents the sacrifices that humanity has taken with becoming mechanical, quite well. You could read it several times over.
Readers’ annotation: What started out as a bedtime story, turns into a real life nightmare.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: We have all had to sacrifice one thing or another in our lives, whether it be small or large, and it is not an easy thing to do. This book lends readers insight into the sacrifices, the good and the bad ones. It lets them know that they are not the only ones who have had to sacrifice something in their lives.
Issues present: This book is quite scary and it has violence. Some people might be against these topics. However, children use such topics in books to help them cope this these things in their daily lives.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce individual characters.
What if the story you thought was fiction became real?
Genre or subject: Science fiction: steampunk
Readalikes: Something Wicked This Way Comes, The Graveyard Book, Leviathan, The Girl in the Steel Corset, Soulless
Author’s website:
Awards: Whitbread Award Nominee for Children’s Book (1996), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (1998), New York Public Library Best Book of the Year (1998)
Reviews:  Booklist:; School Library Journal:; Kirkus Review:
Why I chose it: This book looked incredibly interesting and I discovered that it was very eery and then wanted to add it to my collection.

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